This spot is dedicated to the world and how I see it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

23 June 2007

I have had an headache for quite a while now. It's a weird, nagging pain on the left side close to my eye, which strangely usually starts when I eat or have a tea. Despite being an hypochondric, I have not yet diagnosed the condition but might pay a visit to the doctor if it doesn't disappear soon.

The weirdest aspect with this pain is the way it responds to Paracetamol: It doesn't even take 30 seconds after I have swallowed my half paracetamol until the pain vanishes. How can this be? Is this placebo?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

10 June 2007

I don't intend to be a cynic, but what can I do? When you are single and go to IKEA, these couples - 'IKEA couples' - turn me into feeling horribly (and maybe healthy?) cynical.

Probably IKEA couples don't reflect over the fact that probably at least 50% of them will sooner or later split up. No-one could claim that I am a negative person, but the fact is that one day they will need to divide all these small or big, cozy or functional things, which they once together bought. C'est la vie.

And all hopes and dreams they had together disappear as quick as the things are up for sale on the local noticeboard, or on some online sale site.

Cruel. But that' the way reality is and yes, they are good business for IKEA. IKEA couples and their breakups.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

3 June 2007

A central dilemma of my life in the last years can be compressed in one simple question: When is the right time to buy curtains?

Since the year 1999, I have lived in 4 countries and in an almost endless number of rooms or flats. Always renting and (recently increasingly stressfully) aware that my current home was 'only' temporary - a place where I would live during a period of between 4 months and 2 years.

This kind of drifting - although my purpose of staying there was either work or study - has been rather exhausting. Dragging of suitcases back and forwards between my parents' home, or between the UK (where I lived for 6.5 years) and Germany and Belgium. Big time Schlepping is the most appropriate way to describe it. Well, luckily I have met friendly people in all those train stations and airports who have seen my facial expression of dispair.

When renting a flat, curtains are usually included. This means that there is no need for my own. My mum would say 'thankfully' and so did I 5 years ago, but in the last few years my visits to IKEA have turned into rather painful experiences. IKEA is filled with beautiful stuff, but unfortunately there is one requirement: A home.

Without a home where you know you will stay for at least 'a reasonable' period of time, it does not make much sense to buy those big pieces of furniture - or curtains - which could make the flat I live in into MY flat. In a way visits to IKEA have painfully reminded me of the fact that everything I buy needs to be completely necessary, but yet also dispensable. Please Einstein, could you help me with this equation?

That big vase would personalise my home, but: how on earth would I carry it to the next place (read: country) where I would live? So far the conclusion has been: Well, then I don't buy it! Once my ex-boyfriend and I decided to buy a sofabed, a TV and a big chest of drawers - only to find out that my employer (who, obviously and ironically, operated policies which are supposed to make everything fair and beneficial to the employees) couldn't renew my contract because there was a hiring-freeze for permanent positions. The fixed-term contract dilemma equals the curtain dilemma!

Anyway, that comfy sofabed (which represented our wish to establish a home) had to be advertised online and was sold. C'est la vie, I suppose.

But last week I signed the contract for my new flat. I explicitly asked my future landlord to make it semi-furnished. This time I will live with my own things. No matter if it will be more schlepping than it has ever been before. The right time to buy curtains has arrived.

Friday, June 01, 2007

1 June

This morning I went for a job interview with a political consultancy in Brussels. As all employers aspire, they were looking for someone which would match their requirements: Good degree/s, interesting work experience, fluency in several languages, diplomatic soft skills and time spent abroad. Within my sphere of people, these are criteria and characteristics which almost everyone has. Standards and competition in Brussels are hard and people are smart.

My panel consisted of four middle-aged men in black suits. They were all were friendly and nicely impressed by my background and achievements. It was when they bluntly moved into the “we are looking for someone who is prepared to work long hours-territory” that I got uncomfortable itches: “We are a very hard working consultancy, always striving for the best people to work for us to deliver the best results. We start our day at the latest 8:30 and stay in the office until 7pm, frequently later if required. We are looking for people we can make a long-term investment in. Looking at your age, are you married? I said no. So would you say that you focus on your career? Yes. We need someone who would focus on their career for the next 10 to 15 years – would you do that?”

Fair enough. They were being honest with me, not trying to give the impression they would offer me easy work.

But inside I was boiling and I asked myself if they would ever have the same conversation with a man, or if they would even tell them about the long hours. Most likely, they wouldn’t.

So here we go again. They will probably choose a man, arguing that that man fulfils all their criteria. If they had two candidates with exactly the same qualities (and, importantly, given that the female candidate was only “average”-looking), I am certain that the man would be offered the job. If in a relationship, he would know that he would be able to dedicate all those future evenings because his future wife would take care of the home and children. By default.

I know we are more equal today compared to ever before, but we can leave that out of the equation and instead throw in pure biological factors. Very few 28 year old women would dare to, or even want to claim that their first priority in the next 15 years will be their career. That would be a lie and I some employers seem to use this when recruiting.